The great Indian eye-wash | 2008-03-03
A roundup of the most common cliches on Indian Soaps
If you've got half a ticking mind even, you would agree how silly Indian TV soaps can get. Tailored mainly for the bored or the mentally infirm, their stories are unimaginative, the characters predictable, with a set of standard rules that almost seem to defy logic and sometimes even the space-time continuum!
These soaps seem to have the motto 'When I grow up, I want to be a B-grade Hindi movie'. The K title
In TV circles its K fixation all the way. Not just Balaji but other production houses have launched K titled soaps too.
Never mind if the title runs into several hundred letters or sounds incoherent even. It can sound Klumsy, Kontrived or Konfusing, but 'K' it shall be. Ektaa Kapoor started this saga and it spread like wild fire. A sampler' Kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi,Kasauti Zindagi Kay, Kaisa Yeh Pyar Hai.The Submissive Bahu
Also called the 'Sita Syndrome'. Once the title is finalized, a 'bechari' suppressed looking and so called 'homely' middle class girl from the market is taken in. What if she is dumb and can't act? She doesn't need to actually act, all she needs to do is, shed gallons of tears in every second scene. After all, she has to play a good docile woman who takes injustices for with her morning vitamins and is as valued in her house as the trusty door mat. She's not one for revenge and practices the 'forgive and forget' mantra like a religion. Another day, another chiding, another episode canned! The Cowardly Son
After the heroine is in place, a male counterpart is taken in. He is someone who would be ready to suspect her all the time and will believe everyone in the world except her! However he would never take centre-stage and would play the perfect second fiddle AKA side-kick, to his good old ideal wife. He would be involved in making her life miserable and causing her unhappiness by an untimely death or an extra marital affair. The good looking and handsome need not just apply. If he is middle-aged with salt-n-pepper hair a la Ram Kapoor and Ronit Roy, with a track record of flop films, his chances of getting employed are even higher!
The Nasty Vamp
A daily soap can hardly do without a vamp. Otherwise how would the scheming, plotting and planning (staple diet of soaps) be complete? She needs put on cakes of loud makeup on her face, coloured lenses, artificial eyelashes, stylized bindis, dark kohl and eyeliner, weird hairdos, flasy red lipstick etc. She too doesn't need to act. A unique style of dialogue delivery and show of a cunning mind (otherwise, how would she come up with fool-proof plans) is a must. The dialogue writer would be her best friend in the set up as he gives her the choicest phrases that would outdo even the mom-in-law from hell. The Weirdo Villain
Next in the list of essential ingredients for a daily soap is a very strange looking and weird male villain who would be the right hand man to the always-scheming vamp. He would be sporting the strangest haircuts and the worst wardrobe in the world that probably looks more in place could make him look more like a cartoon character. He would always be free (after all, he has no other work) to carry out any of the evil plans of the vamps.
The Demented Writer
Once the key players are in place, someone should step in to give them their activities in order. That's where the script writer comes into action. He would be some one, who would have the best mind to think of almost impossible (mostly unrealistic) twists and turns in the story. He would also double up as God (almost) here, killing the characters and bringing them back from the grave whenever he gets stuck with the story. A writer need not be a learned person; he can even be a layman with an overactive imagination and a penchant for the occasional spliff!Plastic surgery
This is one formula which seems to hit a chord every time. The person presumed dead can undergo a plastic surgery (it is mostly used when there is requirement of changing the actor due to date issues or fights, tantrums etc) and come back with a totally different person(a)! And surprisingly the audiences are seen welcoming him/ her with open arms. I guess everyone wants to live the fantasy, that you can go under the knife and wake up looking like who ever you want!Time leaps
There can be 5 years leaps, 10 year leaps or 20 year leaps in TV shows. Whenever the story gets stuck, this formula is used. And even if the protagonists age and have countless children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, the only tell-tale sign is the fake white streak in their wigs and the paler shade of clothing they're dumped with.
The Formula Director
All the people with failed careers in film direction to music video production end up making soaps. Not that these shows really need a captain at the helm of affairs. He is just a technician who knows how to yell 'action' and 'cut' and how to take the same shot 3 or 4 times from different angles for heightened effect. He doesn't even need to explain to the actors how to enact a scene because even if they all just stood there yawning and spoke the dialogues backwards, it wouldn't take away from the quality of the show.
Polygamy, love triangles and illegitimate children
These are the most important aspects of serial making, without which, the show would never be complete. Love triangles and squares with three to four people pursuing a single person is common. Polygamy is not just acceptable, it's encouraged. Re marriages can happen in the family too, like a woman divorcing her husband and later remarrying his younger brother and staying in the same house etc! The heroine can keep getting married and separated from her love interests for an unspecified number of times. And in this scenario can illegitimate children be far behind? Such children can remain scattered across the globe for years. But, at a crucial juncture, they make a comeback into their protagonist parents' lives and turn them into hell. Sometimes these children's sole purpose in life is to destroy the parents who didn't hug them enough!Loud Music Director
And no show worth it's salt is complete without the talentless music director. Who's creative genius stretches from melodramatic 'Aaaaaah Aaaaaah' to 'clanging cymbals'. The only prerequisite is that the background music should be deafening and uninspiring.